D-day for Mesaba: Jan. 9


Does It Really Matter....?
Staff member
The clock is now ticking on a strike deadline at Mesaba Airlines.

If the regional carrier and its pilots fail to reach a contract agreement by the end of Jan. 9, pilots are positioned to shut down the airline that provides more than 600 daily commuter flights for Northwest Airlines.

The National Mediation Board on Wednesday declared the start of a 30-day cooling off period, which will end at 11:01 p.m. CST on Jan. 9.

Both sides say they want an agreement, but neither side expects much progress until the strike deadline draws near.

Mesaba's 844 pilots opened contract talks in June 2001, and both sides sought help from a federal mediator in 2002. Talks broke down last week, and the mediation board offered binding arbitration to settle the contract.

Although the pilots requested arbitration in August, pilot union leaders rejected it on Monday because they preferred to trigger a strike deadline.
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Gotta give credit to the pilots for standing up for better compensation given the situation Mesaba is in. I think the vote was well over 90% to strike. Hope Mesaba can pull through. I have flown Mesaba out of STC (St. Cloud, MN) to MSP a few times. If they close shop I suppose Pinnicle CRJs would be coming in. I'm not sure what would happen to the small markets in northern Minnesota like Thief River Falls, Brainerd, and the others. Is there any airport requirements for a CRJ above what is needed for a Saab 340?
I've seen CRJs fit into some tight spaces. Minnesota in the winter might make small runways very tight considering that anti-ice speeds would be needed a lot.

I think I saw a while back that NWA pilots are supporting Mesaba if they strike. If so, I have to give these major pilots credit for helping their regional brothers. Too bad that it's normally more competitve between the two groups.
I guess I was thinking on the line of class E/G airspace. Is there a limitation to scheduled aircraft size in an uncontrolled airport (not because of the pavement structure & length but for safety reasons)?
Negative. Regional jets operate in to plenty of non-towered airports. If Mesaba were to "go away" and NWA lost all its Saab feed, they would probably have to replace it with other turboprops operated by someone. While some of the routes could support RJs, others simply can't. There is too little demand, too little revenue, inadequate runway capacity (good point about Minnesota winters ... anti-ice speeds, contaminated runways, vicious winds, etc.), and on and on. Aircraft size isn't really as big an issue ... a lot of airports that don't support any scheduled service can accept Gulfstream Vs, which have a gross weight higher than that of the CRJ. Runway numbers and revenue/load justification are the reasons you won't see CRJs in those Saab cities anytime soon, no matter what happens with Mesaba.

Good luck, Mesaba guys.

If Mesaba were to "go away" and NWA lost all its Saab feed

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I believe NWA is talking about not renewing the AVRO jets that Mesabe currently flys. From the articles that I have read, they are not cost efficient for them. I do not believe there is any plan to get rid of the Saab fleet. Mesaba's problem is that NWA is the only airline they fly for. If they lose the jet routes, it will account for a 60 % reduction in their routes. NWA plans on replacing the the Avro routes more more cost efficient RJ's. They still have yet to decide who will fly the new jet routes, either Pinnacle (another NWA affiliate) or Mesaba. Pinnacle is already flying the RJ's on many of their routes. It will be interesting to see what happens. I was going to apply at Mesaba for work as a ramp agent/cargo, but with that strike looming it does not seem wise.